The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC) has named Seven Islands State Birding Park in Kodak its Park of the Year as part of the Tennessee State Parks Awards of Excellence.

“Seven Islands State Park had an outstanding year of achievement, and we are excited to announce this award for the park,” said Greer Tidwell, deputy commissioner of Conservation at TDEC. “It takes a top-notch performance to stand above 57 state parks, and Seven Islands delivered extraordinary results.”

The Park of the Year award is for a park that has demonstrated excellence in all award categories – Innovation, Sustainability, Interpretation, Resource Management, Facilities Management, and Customer Engagement as well as the fiscally responsible operation of the park.

Seven Islands worked with an Adverse Childhood Experiences grant and local schools to provide educational programs for over 1,100 students. The park recorded over 2,268 volunteer hours with over 50 volunteers and three interns in numerous community science efforts. The park made major renovations to facilities, created 1,100 feet of new trail, and renovated another 676 feet. Park staff and volunteers removed six acres of invasive species, planted five acres of pollinator habitat, removed 1,130 feet of barbed wire, and removed two tons of debris from historic dump sites.

The diverse natural landscape of aquatic and grassland habitats makes Seven Islands State Birding Park a premier birding destination with more than 190 species of birds sighted. The park encompasses 416 acres along the French Broad River in Knox County, approximately 19 miles east of Knoxville.

TDEC also announced awards for the best parks in the following categories: Pickett CCC Memorial State Park for Customer Engagement and Resource Management; Radnor Lake State Park for Interpretation; Booker T. Washington State Park for Innovation; and Johnsonville State Historic Park for Sustainability. The winner of the Facilities Management category will be announced later.